Audience aR2p Power Conditioner Review 
Home Theater AC Power AC Power
Written by Andre Marc   
Monday, 21 January 2013

Audience, out of San Marcos, CA, is one of the most respected companies in the power conditioning arena, with their line of adeptReponse series consistently getting rave reviews from the audio press and end users alike. I reviewed the adeptResponse aR6 conditioner, and subsequently purchased the review sample, as it enhanced my system in every conceivable way sonically. I cannot imagine my main system without it at this point.

The company, headed up by CEO John McDonald, also produces award winning cables, speakers, and electronics. I reviewed the Audience ClairAudient 2 + 2 Loudspeakers and was highly impressed. Last, but not least, they make state of the art capacitors, which they call AuriCaps. They also make a Teflon version called AuriTeflon. Aside from using them in their own products, they also supply them to other high-end audio manufacturers, along with their Auric hook up wire.

My second system has no power conditioning of any kind, just a pair of passive power strips. I felt it might be time to investigate a more cost effective product to see if I could elevate its performance, since it is a system I use quite often for reviewing in conjunction with my main system. Audience supplied me with their entry-level conditioner, the aR2p, which retails for $695. The aR2p-TO, which uses the higher end Teflon capacitors called the, sells for $1600.

The aR2p is about the size of a cigar box, weighs a little over a pound, and has two Hubbell hospital grade receptacles. It plugs directly into a wall outlet, without the need of a power cord. Audience says an ideal application for the unit is with single components, or mono block amplifiers. You also use it with a high quality passive power strip to power a whole system; you just won’t get the component-to-component isolation that the higher models offer. Some of the features Audience touts as significant to the performance of the aR2p include:

  • Dynamic range performance maximized by extremely low DC resistance
  • Hubbell high conductivity power receptacle
  • Marinco high conductivity power plug
  • Auricap High Resolution Capacitors used exclusively in filter sections
  • All hand wired with 10 gauge equivalent power wire; no printed circuit boards
  • Non-wearing silent high voltage transient suppression up to 20,000 AMPS
  • Non-resonant damping
  • Entire electrical circuit cryogenically treated

I used the aR2p in my second system, currently consisting of the McIntosh MA6600 amplifier, a Squeezebox Touch, a PS Audio NuWave DAC, Marantz CD player, and Harbeth Speakers. I have everything plugged into a high quality Cable Pro Noisetrapper power strip. I also have my own Hubbell hospital grade AC receptacles installed, but no dedicated line, as in my main system.

The system sounds excellent in general, but there are a few things working against it. First, there is an HDTV, a Cable Box/DVR, DVD player, and a pair of Bang & Olufsen active speakers on the same line, and they without a doubt dump grunge into the circuit. Ergonomics and space limitations rule the day. This type of setup is a prime candidate for a smartly designed, unobtrusive power conditioning product.  

I simply plugged the aR2p into the Hubble wall receptacle I normally use for the system, and ran a Pangea power cord to the Noisetrapper power strip. Not wanting too many variables, except for plugging the entire system into the aR2p, everything else remained the same. One thing to keep mind is that when plugging the aR2p into a duplex wall receptacle, you will lose one of the plugs since the unit will make the other one inaccessible. One last note concerning setup: Audience says the unit improves dramatically over time once the circuitry settles in.

So now that we have all of the formalities out of the way, did plugging the system into the aR2p make an audible difference? The answer is emphatic YES. Right out of the box, as a matter of fact. It is rare that you can hear true, clearly distinguishable improvement immediately after inserting an accessory into your system, but this was the case here, very similar to what I experienced with the larger adeptResponse. 

Specifically, there was an additional layer of finesse to the music and, without a doubt, a not-so-subtle layer of electronic haze was removed. Sibilants on closed-mic'd vocals were way smoother, bass was more articulate, and the music sounded bigger, with more space around performers. One can be forgiven for wondering how all of this can be accomplished just by “purifying” the power sent to various components or an entire system. See my full interview at the conclusion of the review, but as Audience's John McDonald told me when I reviewed the adeptResponse, the power IS the sound. Or, as they say, garbage in, garbage out.

The overall presentation was more relaxed, organic, and free flowing. I also noticed that I was able to keep the volume knob a few decibels lower than normal. My guess is the reduction of background noise gave the system less to compete with, which manifested itself in the system seeming to have more output.

Summing Up:

Audiophile power conditioning products are generally categorized as accessories, but when they are as well designed and executed as Audience products, I believe they become integral parts of a high-end system. From my experience with Audience power products, they provide immediately identifiable benefits with absolutely no down side. The aR2p is well made and, for total peace of mind, Audience provides a ten-year warranty on their conditioners.

How convinced am I am that the aR2p improved my system in every way? Well, the unit is not going back to the factory, and will be a permanent upgrade for me. As a matter for fact, I plan on using a second aR2p in my Home Theater system as well. Of course, when budget allows, I am curious to see how the premium version, the aR2p-TO would perform, but the aR2p fits the bill for my current systems. At $695, the Audience aR2p, in my opinion, provides a significant upgrade, for lack of a better term, and is money well spent. Highly recommended.

Q&A with John McDonald of Audience:

1) Avrev.com: With more and more digital devices like cable boxes, HDTV's, and computers in house holds, do you think the need for power filtering/power conditioning is stronger than ever?

Yes, absolutely. These devices, as well as digital and switching audio gear like CD players and Class D amplifiers for example, develop FR noise that gets shared back into audio playback systems. So, naturally, the need for power filters is greater than ever.

 
2) Avrev.com: As a very distinguished OEM, can you give us your view on the health of U.S. manufacturing?

I am not an expert on this subject and, as such, I do not have anything substantive to say. Obviously, however, US makers of high end audio have taken some tumbles since the economic down turn starting in 2008.
 
3) Avrev.com: Lastly, can you tell us what your team at Audience has been working on recently?

Most recently we have been refocusing on the primary reason Audience was founded in 1997, building great loudspeakers! Finally, after long delays, we are going into production of the ONE loudspeaker and have just introduced the 1+1 loudspeaker.  Additionally, we have recently come out with an SE version of our Au24 cables. Also we will also soon release our new and unbeatable Au24 USB cable.



Specifications



Audience aR2p
 
Power Connectors: High conductivity US power receptacle and plug
Current / Voltage:15A/120V & 220v
Dimensions: 3.56” W x 6.31” H x 3.56” D
Weight: 1.2 LBS
Finish: High impact polycarbonate
Price: $695 USD

Contact:
Audience
120 N. Pacific St., K-9
San Marcos, CA 92069


Review System 1


CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Martin Logan Ethos, Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audiquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2


CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, PS Audio NuWave DAC
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600, Electrocomaniet ECI 3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genisis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, Keces XPS







Like this article? Bookmark and share with any of the sites below.
Digg!Reddit!Del.icio.us!Google!StumbleUpon!Yahoo!Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!
 
Joomla SEF URLs by Artio